Summer frolics

I’m enjoying the warm summer weather in London although when I first arrived from New Zealand the temperature, at 14C, was 2C less than wintertime in Wellington. Such is life. However, it now up to 30C and too hot. Some people are never satisfied!

Let the fun begin

I enjoyed my visit to RetCon 2024, the retro gaming festival held on Saturday June 15th at the Greenford Community Centre in Greenford, west London. It was a great mixture of Retro computing, presentations with a nice mix of retro vendors which included AmigaKit and A-EON Technology. David Pleasance brought along a selection of Commodore and Amiga branded merchandise, and we were both kept busy regularly signing copies of the Vultures to Vampires trilogy.

RetCon 2024 reflections

Matthew Leaman was selling a good selection of AmigaKit’s Classic Amiga goodies which included the A600GS, a 68K compatible Gaming system and desktop computer powered by AmiBench. Also on sale was the AmigaOne A1222 Plus motherboard complete with its Recovery USB drive and full AmigaOS 4.1 and Enhancer Software v2.2 licences. Matthew sold all the A600GS systems he brought to RetCon and could probably have sold many more. Even the A1222 Plus was sold very early in the day.

Andrew & Mark Joseph – Dizzy Fansite

Although the Greenford computer has a strong Amiga contingent its members cover all retro computer flavours and the various displays reflected that diversity. Mark and Andrew Joseph from YolkFolk were promoting The Dizzy Fansite which is dedicated to one of the the most fondly remembered game series of the 8-bit era.

Mo and Dean – Console Revive

Dean and Mo from Console_Revive, who specialise in shells, mods and add-ons for various retro consoles had a display of customised Game Cube and Game boy housings for sale including complete Game Cube systems. Michael Nurney, from MVT Computers was again presenting the A-PET computer, his PC homage to the original Commodore PET. Don’t worry, he hasn’t destroyed a PET computer. He has remodelled the A-PET case which is larger than the original Commodore versions.

Matthew running BBC Micro Econet

The Greenford Computer Club showcased a network of BBC Micros connected via Econet, a simple and low costs networking solution developed by Acorn Computers Ltd in the early 1980s. It was primarily designed for educational use in schools and universities and allowed the BBC Micro and Acorn Electron computers to connect and communicate with each other over a local area network. Econet facilitated file sharing, printing to a network printer, and running software from a server. Bret Prichard, of Bapstarcade was demoing the TX-1696 game on his Spectrum Next arcade game table.

I even came across a couple of ‘Speccy’ suppliers, Quazar and ESPectrum, both of which were new to me since I’m not very familiar with the Spectrum scene. Quazar provides a range of hardware accessories for the ZX Spectrum and SAM Coupé. ESPectrum is an emulator for the 48K and 128K models of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum microcomputer, designed to run on Espressif ESP32 microcontrollers.

RetCon Talk Panellists

The presentation schedule included Steve Jones of Checkmate, Rob Smith known for the Retro Directory and Drawbridge , and long-time game developer Colin Porch, who has multiple C64, Amiga, and Atari games to his credit. Other presenters included Roland Perry, one of the founders of the Amstrad CPC and Jason Whitely who created the music and soundtracks for many popular games including Populous II, Desert Strike and John Madden football.

Jason Whitely, Steve Bennett & Philip Oliver

For me one of the most interesting talks was given by Philip Oliver, one half of the renowned game development duo, the Oliver Twins. I’ve been investigating the practical applications of artificial intelligenceI, focusing on cutting through the hype to understand its real-world uses so I was interested in what the twins were doing to incorporate AI into their work. They are leveraging the power of AI to bring history to life through interactive historic characters. By using advanced AI technology, they aim to create engaging and educational experiences that allow users to interact with digital recreations of historical figures. By combining technology with historical scholarship, they want to create a dynamic and immersive way for people to connect with the past. Philip also talked about RichCast, an interactive story telling platform which also utilises AI that was developed by Panivox, a company founded by the Oliver Twins.

The last presentation scheduled for the day was a double act from David Pleasance and me. Before our presentation, David took the opportunity to announce plans for a crowdfunding campaign to finance a new book he is writing in collaboration with Dave Haynie. Taking advantage of hindsight, they want to focus on what David and Colin (Proudfoot) would have done differently had they had acquired the Commodore IP in 1995. Look out for more news from David soon.

Afterward, I joined David on stage. We shared a few stories and anecdotes and answered questions from the audience. After the show closed there was still times to grab a quick drink and bite to eat at a nearby pub. All in all it was a very enjoyable day.

Greenford Computer club team with sponsors, presenters and some of the retailers

Proud to be an Amigaholic

During his presentation David revealed that his inspiration for the “Proud to be an Amigaholic” strapline, which he uses on some of his Amiga branded merchandise, came from my opening introduction to the joint presentation we gave at Amiparty in Poland many years ago. It was a fantastic two days of continuous Amiga fun coupled with more than a few drinks of Perła beer and a home-made green concoction known as Stalin’s Tears. Watch the video if you want to find out more.

One down, one to go

With Retcon 2024 done and dusted, this weekend I’m off to Kickstart 02 in Nottingham. The Kickstart show is the brainchild of Ravi Abbot which he bills as the UK Amiga Expo. In two short years the show has grown into the largest Amiga event in the UK. I’m pleased to once again be the Gold sponsor for the Kickstart show on behalf of A-EON Technology.

A young Ravi Abbot-Silicon Dreams 2013

If last year’s show is anything to go by visitors are in for a fun-filled weekend packed with excellent presentations and a host of vendors selling a wide range of Commodore and Amiga-related goodies and other retro merchandise. This includes AAA Technology who will be displaying and selling A1222 Plus motherboards and systems and AmigaKit who will be hoping to once again sell out all their A600GS systems. The event is boosted by the participation of multiple Amiga user groups from throughout the UK who are eager to spread and share the Amiga spirit.

Amiga man cave

If you’re a regular reader of my Soapbox column in Amiga Future magazine, you’ll know that I was recently visited by the globe-trotting Robert Bernardo. As the President of the Fresno Commodore User Group, Robert is well-known in the Commodore community for his dedication to recording and documenting events like Amiwest and Commodore Los Angeles Super show and uploading videos and photos to the web. Since retiring he’s also been travelling around the world connecting with local Commodore and Amiga groups wherever his goes. On his latest international trip, he spent a couple of weeks visiting user groups in Australia before making a stop in New Zealand to visit me on his way home to California.

And so it begins – the KIM-1

This is the third time Robert has visited me in New Zealand. Since his last visit, I’ve relocated the main part of my Commodore and Amiga collection into its own dedicated building. The collection is organized into separate zones: one for Commodore PETs, another for the VIC20, C64 and other8-bit systems, Classic Amiga computers-in-a-keyboard models, and Amiga towers as well as “Powered by Amiga” clones. There’s also a next-generation section for AmigaOS 4, MorphOS, and AROS-powered machines, along with a designated space for FPGA and emulation. If you want to learn more, check out the video Robert created to chronicle his visit. Who said I was crazy? 😉

True colours

Matthew and his Chelsea Amiga shirt

You know someone is a true Amigan when a Liverpool FC fanatic buys his his equally passionate Liverpool FC dad a framed Chelsea football shirt for Christmas. Yes, we’re talking about you, Matthew Leaman. While I can’t support your choice of football teams, I fully approve of your excellent taste in computers! 🙂 Amiga Forever.

……..until next time, next stop Kickstart 02

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